The term “brainwashing” came into common language through the work of American journalist Edward Hunter who was an expert of Oriental issues; the very word being the direct translation of Chinese “hsi-nao”.
By “hsi-nao” the Chinese meant certain techniques in dealing with adversaries and/or training of officials. To the Western usage the term “brainwashing” spread in the 1950s through several publications depicting the treatment of American soldiers at Chinese prison camp during the Korean War 1950-1953.
Below is a list of the usual brainwashing/mind control techniques used in schools, hospitals, army, religious cults, totalitarian states; with political prisoners and dissidents, mentally insane, some versions of psychotherapy, etc. “Indoctrination” is a more slight and more subliminal form of brainwashing (e.g. commercials). However, these concepts are nothing short of controversial and open to various interpretations, which should be kept in mind while perusing the Web sources below.
Judging by the extremely diverse material on the subject found from the Net, the funny thing about the term “brainwashing” itself is that it can be handily appropriated by just anyone — whether they were right-wing or left-wing, religious people or anti-cultists — to support their claims of their opponents (supposedly using these “brainwashing” techniques) being miserable, no-good wretches.
I became not a little bit cynical after wallowing through tons of Web pages by religious bigots, downright wackos (most usual was the claim of government having secret mind control experiments with microwaves) and so-called (American right-wing fascist/racist) patriots, but tried to put here those that I found useful or at least interesting myself.
(In other words, after browsing an otherwise decent and respectable-looking page for a while you might start smelling a rat.)
I can’t guarantee the information found from some of these pages is totally unprejudiced or scientifically verifiable under skeptical observation. So, it’s up to you to decide whether to believe them or not.
1) HYPNOSIS – Inducing a high state of suggestibility, often thinly disguised as relaxation or meditation.
a. Repetitive Music (most likely with a beat close to the human heart 45 to 72 beats per minute). Most likely used during “study sessions” as the teacher will say the music helps you relax and concentrate better!
b. Voice Roll — A “voice roll” is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance. It is also used by many lawyers, several of whom are highly trained hypnotists, when they desire to entrench a point firmly in the minds of the jurors. A voice roll can sound as if the speaker were talking to the beat of a metronome or it may sound as though he were emphasizing every word in a monotonous, patterned style. The words will usually be delivered at the rate of 45 to 60 beats per minute, maximizing the hypnotic effect.
c. Room “Feel” – The way a room feels is essential to hypnotizing unknowing subjects. It needs special lighting, florescent lights are best because they aren’t too dim, but aren’t too harsh. Also, Room Temp helps a bit, usually a little cooler than normal room temperature. You need to have the unknowing subjects very relaxed, perhaps even close to falling asleep.
2) PEER GROUP PRESSURE – Suppressing doubt and resistance to new ideas by exploiting the need to belong.
3) “LOVE BOMBING” – Creating a sense of family through physical touch, thought & feeling sharing and emotional bonding.
4) REJECTION OF OLD VALUES – Accelerating acceptance of new lifestyle by constantly denouncing former beliefs and values.
5) CONFUSING DOCTRINE – Encouraging blind acceptance and rejection of logic through complex lectures on an incomprehensible doctrine.
6) METACOMMUNICATION – Implanting subliminal messages by stressing certain key words or phrases in long, confusing lectures.
7) REMOVAL OF PRIVACY – Achieving loss of ability to evaluate logically by preventing private contemplation.
8) DISINHIBITION – Encouraging child-like obedience by orchestrating child-like behavior
9) UNCOMPROMISING RULES – Inducing regression and disorientation by soliciting agreement to seemingly simple rules which regulate mealtimes, bathroom breaks and use of medications.
10) VERBAL ABUSE – Desensitizing through bombardment with foul and abusive language. (Physical abuse, such as torture, is the more extreme form of this.)
11) SLEEP DEPRIVATION AND FATIGUE – Creating disorientation and vulnerability by prolonging mental an physical activity and withholding adequate rest and sleep.
12) DRESS CODES – Removing individuality by demanding conformity to the group dress code.
13) CHANTING OR SINGING – Eliminating non-cult ideas through group repetition of mind-narrowing chants or phrases.
14) CONFESSION – Encouraging the destruction of individual ego through confession of personal weaknesses and innermost feelings of doubt.
15) FINANCIAL COMMITMENT – Achieving increased dependence on the group by ‘burning bridges’ to the past, through the donation of assets.
16) FINGER POINTING – Creating a false sense of righteousness by pointing to the shortcomings of the outside world.
17) ISOLATION – Inducing loss of reality by physical separation from family, friends, society and rational references.
18) CONTROLLED APPROVAL – Maintaining vulnerability and confusion by alternately rewarding and punishing similar actions.
19) CHANGE OF DIET – Creating disorientation and increased susceptibility to emotional arousal by depriving the nervous system of necessary nutrients through the use of special diets and/or fasting. Also applying drugs for these purposes fall in this category.
20) GAMES – Inducing dependence on the group by introducing games with obscure rules.
21) NO QUESTIONS – Accomplishing automatic acceptance of beliefs by discouraging questions.
22) GUILT – Reinforcing the need for ‘salvation’ by exaggerating the sins of the former lifestyles.
23) FEAR – Maintaining loyalty and obedience to the group by threatening soul, life or limb for the slightest ‘negative’ thought, word or deed.
Three Principles of Re-Education
1) REPETITION – Going through the same subject over and over again until it is known by heart.
2) ACTIVITY PEDAGOGICS – The subjects are never left alone nor give any private time of their own, they are always in activity.
3) CRITICISM AND SELF-CRITICISM – The subjects are supposed to feel uncertain; under the constant threat of being humiliated and despised.
In the Korean War the “criticism and self-criticism” sessions held for the American prisoners of war by the Chinese clearly had deeper effects than the POWs could initially comprehend, and when they found out, it was too late. In the beginning many prisoners found this whole procedure just childish, and were inclined to take it merely as something of a joke, but without them being able to realize it, the situation of being subjected constantly to the criticism of one’s comrades became humiliating.
That a grown-up person should publicly discuss one’s habits or inclinations — some of them of very private nature — confess one’s faults, receive strong criticism for insignificant misdemeanors, will not be indeed in the course of time anything to be considered childish or playful: it simply will be experienced as insulting. This continuing feeling of humiliation became crucial in the gradual psychological break-up of the prisoners’ personalities. Furthermore, this ongoing process of “criticism and self-criticism” was bound to cause mistrust for one’s own comrades: it was the tactics of “divide and conquer” as the ancient Romans would have called it. (“Criticism and self-criticism” were also widely applied during China’s “Cultural Revolution” starting in 1966, as a method of “re-education”.)
Links: (We can’t guarantee the continuing validity of all these)